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Friday, January 27, 2006

Friday Top Ten 

OK, this has been a long time coming, but I think I'm finally prepared to offer you a list of God-honoring, Christ-exalting music from my collection. The selections were based on my perception of a balance of the quality of the lyrics, the excellence of the music, and the testimony of the artist.* I am always looking for good fresh music (and I think the diversity below demonstrates that I'm willing to think about a variety of styles) so feel free to add your suggestions. Because I've chosen to limit my top ten lists to only ten items, not all of my tastes are represented, but I'm open to consider recommendations in rock, punk, gospel, pop, rap, country, folk, and probably a dozen other categories. I'm not real fond of "house" or "techno", and I have a hard time with what I'll refer to as "thrash". I don't discriminate against Christians who choose to release their material primarily to the secular market, but I have a distinct distaste for non-Christians who peddle their wares under the banner of Christianity. But that's another post.

Chagall Guevara

Steve Camp
Abandoned to God

Burlap to Cashmere
Anybody Out There?

John Reuben

Michael Card
Present Reality

Rich Mullins
The World As Best As I Remember It (Vol 2)

Phil Keaggy

Chris Rice
Run the Earth, Watch the Sky

Keith Green
No Compromise

Seventy Sevens
Sticks and Stones

*In some cases, one of those three factors weighed so heavily as to overlook lapses in another.

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Here's a few I thought were worth noting:

Much Afraid - Jars of Clay
Age-to-Age - Amy Grant
Speechless - Steven Curtis Chapman


CJ -

As always, thanks for your input. Those are decent choices, but here's why the top ten reasons why they didn't make the top 10:

10. Adultery. I'm not sure what happened to Burlap to Cashmere, but I heard accounts which suggestion their Christian testimony was not entirely above reproach. However, in the case of Amy Grant, her sin was so public and yet she continued to stay in the spotlight of Christian ministry, and for that I felt that she couldn't remain in the top ten.

9. Creativity. Steven Curtis Chapman had a great album in Speechless. I commend you for selecting that one from his repertoire. However, you have to admit there is little in that album that sounds significantly different from all his other albums. I keep buying more of his albums, because he keeps having one or two gems on each offering that make it worthwhile. But as I consider my list, these are discs that I can put any combination of them in my CD changer, put it on repeat, and be happy for a long long time. There are few low spots, even as you get deep into the track list.

8. Exposure. Let's face it - Jars of Clay is probably the most recognizable Christian band in the secular world. Yes, they put out some top notch music. I don't think I would have chosen that particular album, but I toyed with three of their other ones (including their debut, which was a landmark to be sure) but in the end they were edged out by some artists from the same genre who could use the props (as if a stamp of approval on my humble blog will vault them to stardom).

7. Originality. When it gets right down to it, despite her absolutely amazing voice, Amy Grant has written very little music of her own that is worthy of making the list. Her biggest hits in those early days were written by the likes of Michael Card (El Shaddai) and Rich Mullins (Sing Your Praise to the Lord), both of whom made my list.

6. Voice. This was the main thing that kept Michael W. Smith miles away from my top ten, but it also proved to be the death knell for S.C.C. His nasally whine doesn't have the same "fingers on chalkboard" factor, but it gets old for me after a couple of songs.

5. Performance. While I have never personally had the privilege to see Chris Rice or Keith Green in concert, the majority of the others put on a pretty impressive show. I've been to see Phil Keaggy a dozen or so times, Rich Mullins a handful, Michael Card a couple, and the other 5 each once. I've got to say, one of the two times I saw Jars of Clay live, they sucked. It was like hearing a poorly produced canned version of their album.

4. Mainstream. Each of the artists you mentioned sit squarely in the middle of CCM. The inclusion of any of them over some of the more marginal styles would have made it too heavy in that category, and frankly, there are far better CCM acts that could have been included, such as Caedmon's Call, Casting Crowns, FFH, Newsboys, Switchfoot (OK, none better than Jars of Clay, but you get my drift).

3. Theology. Amy Grant's divorce debacle aside, your choices are probably very nice moral people who love Jesus and want to worship God. But I could not include them and leave out the deep thinkers and Biblical scholars like Steve Camp, Michael Card, Chris Rice, and Keith Green.

2. Imagery. I like lyrics that paint a rich picture. I'll put up:

"Birds roar, lions soar, sheep are cruel
snails pace, papers chase, midgets rule
stuffed shirts, Ethel Mertz, we ain't foolin'
Socks hop, lemons drop, butter flies
tough wimps, sadoshrimps, mojos rise
pips squeak, widows peek, are you surprised?"

"I do I do I do I do believe
I know I know I know I know it's true yeah
I do I do I do I do believe
Lord I believe in you
I believe in you"
any day of the week.

1. Preference. It's my list and I like the ones I have.



I like: The Awakening (or Ashton Nyte, they're really the same anyway) and Saviour Machine. DC Talk was creative musically but some of their lyrics were less than stellar. Wedding Party has good lyrics, but I can't vouch for their music.

I especially like Christian musicians who live as lights for Christ in subcultures, thus I picked Saviour Machine (Christian goth legends) and The Awakening.


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